Following the success of Healthy Stadia work undertaken by Heart of Mersey in North west England, a successful proposal for a 'Sports Stadia and Community Health' project was made to the European Commission in the framework of its Public Health Programme (DG SANCO). This project worked with an initial group of partner agencies in Finland, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Ireland, Poland, Spain and the UK, and was tasked with piloting the Healthy Stadia concept with stadia in a cross-section of European countries and developing suitable guidance documentation to further the future roll out of healthy initiatives.
One of the key activities for the European programme was a benchmark of current practice concerning Healthy Stadia initiatives across Europe. Following an initial literature review, in March 2008 a questionnaire enquiring into the stadium's age, ownership, capacity and range of 'healthy' initiatives was disseminated by European project partners for an 8 month period, resulting in returns from 10 different countries, representing over 12 different sports, the results of which were published in Health Promotion International.
Building on this initial evidence base a Healthy Stadia 'Toolkit' was developed, providing users with a walk-through of the basic steps needed to roll out Healthy Stadia initiatives, such as putting an action plan together, locating partners, evaluation and mainstreaming of healthy initiatives, which was supported by a host of case studies drawn together from stadia participating in the Programme.
In order to disseminate much of the learning and results from this programme of work, a European conference was held in Liverpool (UK) in September 2009, where a European Healthy Stadia Network was officially launched. In addition to keynote speeches from UEFA, the European Commission and major sports stadia such as Anfield (Liverpool FC) and the Amsterdam Arena, the findings from the audit of current practice, the piloting of the toolkit and case studies generated through the European programme were disseminated to over 250 delegates.